trust \ˈtrəst\


firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.


believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

What is it?

Well, for starters, trust is a really BIG word with a really BIG meaning, right? While we typically think of our trust in God, let’s take a look today at how this BIG idea shows up in our relationships with each other.

We know it when we feel it. It’s not usually demonstrated like an ON-OFF switch, but instead, trust happens in degrees. The degree to which we feel safe enough to be vulnerable and authentic, or the degree to which we are guarded and protective in relationship is a matter of trust.

Why does it matter?

Studies in neuroscience tell us that our brain has both a Distrust network and a Trust network. Our Distrust network is activated when we feel fear, threat or uncertainty, causing us to guard or protect ourselves, our image, our opinions, our perspectives, our convictions, our authority, our status, our rights, etc. In this mental state, we are practically incapable of considering new ideas or collaborating on solutions to problems. We see this in marriages, friendships and teams. This Distrust network shapes the way we interpret what is said and done, and in fact, often shapes the very reality in which we find ourselves.

On the other hand, when a safe place is offered to explore and acknowledge our fears, and when we feel heard and accepted, and invited to genuinely co-create solutions or situations, our trust network is activated, resulting in strengthened relationships and sometimes incredible bursts of creativity, energy and motivation. Trust matters as we take a creative look at what it means to demonstrate Christ-Community-Living in a world that seeks answers.

What Can I Do About It?

Even though trust is a really big idea and can be challenging to wrap our head around, social science researcher Brene’ Brown says that trust is increased or decreased in small, moment by moment interactions.

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Brown’s research reveals 7 key elements of trust, which she calls the Anatomy of Trust. “Breaking down the attributes of trust into specific behaviors allows us to more clearly identify” what breaks down or builds up trust, moment by moment.

She has developed the acronym “BRAVING” for the elements and here’s how she describes them.

B – Boundaries: You respect my boundaries and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask. You’re willing to say no.

R – Reliability: You do what you say you’ll do. At work, this means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don’t overpromise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.

A – Accountability: You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.

V – Vault: You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. I need to know that my confidences are kept, and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential.

I – Integrity: You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them.

N – Non-judgment: I can ask for what I need and you can ask for what you need, We can talk about how we feel without judgment.

G – Generosity: You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words and actions of others.

So, here are the questions I ask myself as I consider my desire to increase levels of trust in my relationships:

  • What boundaries do I have in place and how well do I communicate them? How well do I know the boundaries of those I live and work with?
  • How reliable am I? Are there areas I need to improve?
  • What do I have in place for accountability? When I make a mistake, do I defend myself or cover it up rather than owning it and attempting to make it right?
  • How careful am I with confidential information?
  • Am I tempted to rationalize when doing the right thing is hard? Do I look for excuses when putting my values to the test is difficult?
  • How willing am I to withhold judgment when I disagree with someone? Do I withhold acceptance based on my approval?
  • How often do I seek the best possible interpretation of someone’s words or actions? What would change if I did this more?

What if 2017 could see our teams focusing on bringing growth and improvement to each of these elements of trust? How might that impact our testimony? What progress might we make where we’ve been stuck?

More on Trust:

Glasser, Judith. Conversational Intelligence, 2014

-Submitted by: Cindy Schmelzenbach